StrictlyVC: August 1, 2017

Hi, everyone, happy August!:)

Before we jump into things, we’re excited to announce one more guest speaker who is joining us for our last event of the year, on Wednesday, September 27, in downtown San Francisco. Marco Santori, a New York-based attorney who now leads Cooley’s fintech practice, has generously agreed to join L.A.-based cryptocurrency banker Stan Miroshnik for our fireside chat about ICOs.

Both are fully immersed in the business of structuring new products; together, they’ll tell you all the ins and outs of ICOS (and how best to invest in them). Catch them while they’re in town. Seats for the evening are available here.

Top News in the A.M.

Blood testing startup Theranos just reached a settlement agreement with former customer Walgreens. As part of the confidential deal, Walgreens will dismiss its lawsuit against Theranos “with no finding of implication of liability.” Walgreens filed a lawsuit against the company last November, seeking up to $140 million in damages. More here.

SoftBank Vision Fund is now in talks to invest directly in India’s Flipkart, says Bloomberg, after talks to fold SoftBank-backed Snapdeal into Flipkart fell apart. More here.

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eero changed the world of home WiFi with a powerful idea: that a system of wireless access points placed throughout the home could deliver WiFi so good, you’d never think about it again. Now, the 2nd generation of eero is available — providing hyper-fast, super-stable WiFi in all corners of all types of homes. For StrictlyVC readers: use code StrictlyVC at checkout and select overnight shipping for free!

This Startup Wants Every Camp, Swim School, and After-School Program Using Its Software

Sawyer, a two-year-old, Brooklyn-based startup that aims to become the OpenTable of children’s activities, has raised $6 million in new funding led by Advance Venture Partners. Others who contributed to the round include Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, 3311 Ventures, Female Founders Fund, and earlier backer Collaborative Fund,  as well as unnamed investors from the company’s $1.5 million seed round, which closed in April of last year.

Sawyer sees itself as capitalizing on the more customized ways that parents are trying to educate their children, in an age where they also expect the online tools they use to be simple. It has a two-pronged approach toward that end, too.

First and foremost, it’s been at work on a subscription-based software suite called Sawyer Tools that it says “hundreds” of outfits across the U.S. — from camps to after-school programs to early-development classes — are now using to schedule classes, communicate with parents, and process payments.

Sawyer CEO and cofounder Marissa Evans Alden suggests it’s a big opportunity that’s just waiting to be exploited. “None of these vendors run on any type of [sophisticated] software,” she says. She likens what Sawyer is building to the cloud-based business management software made by publicly traded MindBody, which caters to the wellness industry and went public in 2015. “Where MindBody was able to power yoga facilities, there isn’t this layer in that space,” says Alden.

More here.

New Fundings

Bitrise, a two-year-old, Hungary-based startup that helps app developers automate their daily development tasks, from building through testing to deployment, has raised $3.2 million in funding. OpenOcean led the round, with participation from Y Combinator (whose program Bitrise passed through recently), Fiedler Capital, and other angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Carspring, a two-year-old, London- and Berlin-based used car buying platform that was founded by Rocket Internet, has raised £5 million ($6.6 million) in Series B funding from Rocket Internet itself, Channel 4’s Commercial Growth Fund (which trades TV advertising for equity) and other, unnamed investors. TechCrunch has more here.

CommonSense Robotics, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that’s trying to create micro-fulfillment centers that can be built inside existing retail spaces, has raised $6 million in seed funding. Aleph VC and Innovation Endeavors co-led the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Helpling, a three-year-old, Berlin-based platform for on-demand home services that was incubated by Rocket Internet, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Unilever Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Juvo, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup looking to provide micro-loans to underbanked mobile users in emerging markets, has raised $40 million in funding led by New Enterprise Associates and Wing Venture Capital. Juvo had previously raised $14 million from investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Kin, a year-old, Chicago-based home insurance startup that promises to save users time and aggravation, has raised $4 million from investors, including Commerce VenturesOmidyar Network500 StartupsChicago Venturesand Portag3 Ventures, as well as numerous unnamed angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Taxify, a four-year-old, Estonia-based, Uber-like service that operates in Europe and Africa and plans to launch in London later this year, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Didi Chuxing. As you likely recall, Didi had forced Uber out of China; now it’s finding ways to expand its geographic footprint. TechCrunch has more here.

UnifyID, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based authentication platform that relies on factors that are unique to individuals but don’t require any user action (like users’ locations, their habits, and various signals from the devices they carry), has raised $20 million in Series A funding. New Enterprise Associatesled the round, with participation from earlier backers Andreessen HorowitzStanford-StartX and Accomplice Ventures. (We liked this company when we saw it live. It was the runner-up at TechCrunch’s Disrupt show in San Francisco last year.) More here.

Volocopter, a five-year-old, Germany-based flying air taxi developer, has raised $30 million in funding from DaimlerMore here.

Wonderbly, a five-year-old, London-based platform for creating and publishing personalized story books (it was formerly called Lost My Name), has raised $8.5 million in Series B funding. Ravensburger, a leading European publisher, led the round, with participation from earlier backers GVProject A VenturesGreycroft PartnersThe Chernin GroupAllen & Co., and Silicon Valley Bank (which provided an undisclosed amount of debt funding). More here.


Following sexual harassment allegations that led to the resignation of 500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure, the troubled venture firm has reportedly abandoned its Canada fund. The outfit had reportedly already received $15 million in commitments and was targeting $30 million, but concerned LPs have asked it to stop making new or follow-on investments. According to reports, 500 Startups had already invested in 38 Canadian startups. More here.

Facebook has acquired the conversational AI startup Ozlo, a 3.5-year-old outfit founded by Charles Jolley, who was formerly head of platform for Android at Facebook. The companies aren’t disclosing terms of the deal, but Jolly isn’t heading back to the mothership, reports TechCrunch. Ozlo had raised $14 million from investors, including AME Cloud Ventures and Greylock PartnersMore here.

LogMeIn, a 14-year-old, Boston-based company that sells authentication and other connectivity software and services to companies whose users connect remotely, is paying up to $50 million for an Israeli company called Nanorepthat developed chatbots and other AI-based tools that help people navigate self-service apps. Nanorep had raised just less than $7 million from investors, including TitaniumOryzn Capital and OurCrowd. TechCrunch has more here.

Wyndham Worldwide, the giant hotel chain, has acquired Love Home Swap, a six-year-old, London-based startup that enables users to book time to stay in other people’s homes while renting out their own homes. According to Crunchbase, Love Home Swap had raised roughly $16 million in funding, including from MMC Ventures. Wyndam is buying it for just north of $50 million, says TechCrunch. More here.

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Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is a smaller firm today. Yesterday, general partner Mike Abott announced that he’s leaving the firm to jump back into the world of startups. Separately, the firm is shutting down its early-stage “Edge” initiative — it was a way for the firm to market its seed-stage investments — with three young investors who’d joined to be lead that effort now parting ways with the firm, reports TechCrunch. (As we mentioned last week, Arielle Zuckerberg also left recently, apparently to travel in a camper van.)

Roughly 100 current or former Snap employees have profited on paper from their stock gains, according to new analysis in The Information. Shares for remaining employees are currently under water.

Essential Reads

Facebook is reportedly working on a video chat device for the home — the first major hardware product from its experimental Building 8 lab.

Uber is less valuable without Travis Kalanick as CEO than it was with him at the helm, according to some of the ride-hailing company’s biggest investors.

Less than a week after the SEC said that it may regulate certain crypto token sales, better known as ICOs, Singapore has followed suit, saying it will also regulate offerings that are deemed to be securities. As TechCrunch notes, Singapore has developed into a destination of sorts for ICOs.


You may now toke with the bride (evidently).

Do you love with your phone? We mean, romantically.

Retail Therapy

David Rockefeller’s 14.5-acre estate on Mount Desert Island in Maine is on the market. Price tag: $19 million.

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